September 19, 2017

“Young activists see them as role models.” – Washington Post

The Mitchell Artist Lecture is a landmark public program that annually features major figures in the world of artistic collaboration. The 2017 speakers were artists, political activists, and pranksters, The Yes Men.

The Yes Men have gained international notoriety for impersonating big businesses on TV and conferences around the world. They describe what they do asIdentity Correction.” Unlike identity theft, which criminals practice with dishonest intent, Identity Correction is the art of impersonating a powerful figure to humiliate them for conspiring against the public good. They have  made three award-winning feature films about their actions, and have been called “the Jonathan Swift of the Jackass generation” by author Naomi Klein.

Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno are co-founders of The Yes Men. Bichlbaum got his start as an activist when, as a computer programmer, he inserted a swarm of kissing boys in a shoot-em-up video game (SimCopter) just before it shipped to store shelves; he found himself fired, momentarily famous, and hugely amused. Since then he’s worked for Exxon, Dow, the WTO, Halliburton, Monsanto, and many other companies without their approval. Bichlbaum once flew down the Nile in a two-seater airplane, bringing a live goat to a remote Sudanese village as a hostess gift for a homecoming party. Bonanno is the other half of The Yes Men. When he’s not making mischief, Bonanno is a professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

About the Mitchell Artist Lecture
The annual Mitchell Artist Lecture features individuals emblematic of artistic innovation. Each fall, a leading artist discusses the power and potential of interdisciplinary collaboration to a combined audience of university community and the greater public. The Lecture is presented by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, which is part of the University of Houston Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts. Past lectures have featured Tania Bruguera, Jason and Alicia Hall Moran, Laurie Anderson, and Bill T. Jones.

Watch The Yes Men’s solution to California’s drought
Watch The Yes Men Impersonate Shell, Make ‘Last Iceberg’ Snow Cones
Watch The Yes Men “punk’d” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce